Caribbean News Now!

About Us Contact Us

Countries/Territories

Jump to your country or territory of interest

Advertise with us

Reach our daily visitors from around the Caribbean and throughout the world. Click here for rates and placements.

Contribute

Submit news and opinion for publication

Subscribe

Click here to receive our daily regional news headlines by email.

Archives

Click here to browse our extensive archives going back to 2004

Also, for the convenience of our readers and the online community generally, we have reproduced the complete Caribbean Net News archives from 2004 to 2010 here.

Climate Change Watch

The Caribbean is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels brought about by global warming. Read the latest news and information here...

Travel


Follow Caribbean News Now on Twitter
Connect with Caribbean News Now on Linkedin



News from the Caribbean:


Back To Today's News

EarthTalk: Keeping our food safe and healthy
Published on May 6, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

earthtalk_foodsafety.jpg
Green groups like the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA) would like to see the US trade-in its policy that treats chemicals as “innocent until proven guilty” for something akin to Europe’s regulatory system, where a “health-protective precautionary approach” dictates which chemicals are approved for widespread use. Photo: Heather Buttrum/Flickr

Dear EarthTalk: What would you consider to be the key areas we need to improve to make our food safer for our health and easier on our environment? -- Billy A., Oakland, CA

Although we have come a long way in recent years with regard to the safety and sustainability of our food supply, we still have a long way to go. Toxic pesticides are still used on the vast majority of US grown crops, while other hormone-disrupting chemicals are omnipresent in our food packaging. And excessive use of antibiotics in animal agriculture threatens to render many human drugs ineffective.

Environmental leaders would like to see the federal government step up and institute regulations banning such substances in our food supply, but for now it’s still up to individual consumers to make the right choices.

Fruits and vegetables grown on conventional (i.e. not organic) farms make up some 96 percent of the produce we eat -- and expose us to many pesticides. Two of the most toxic, chlorpyrifoss and DDT, are also quite common: 93 percent of Americans carry trace amounts of the former in their bloodstreams, while 99 percent of us have DDT residue coursing through our veins.

These chemicals on our food can be harmful to adults, but health experts are even more concerned about what they are doing to our kids.

The non-profit Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA) points to recent studies showing that children with high pesticide exposures in the womb are at increased risk of being born with birth defects and are much more likely to encounter developmental delays, ADHD and autism spectrum disorders.

A related issue is the hormone-disrupting bisphenol-A (BPA) in our food supply as a result of its widespread use in the lining of cans and other food and drink containers.

“Nearly every person in America has some BPA in his or her body,” reports the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading green group. “And yet, this food-packaging chemical may cause problems in developing fetuses, infants and children by altering behavior and increasing the risk of prostate cancer, as a government report concluded nearly two years ago.”

Other studies have shown links between BPA exposure and a variety of human health problems including erectile dysfunction, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Another big hurdle to a safer, greener food system is our increasing reliance on antibiotics to fight bacterial infections in livestock. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has known since the 1970s that feeding large amounts of antibiotics to healthy livestock breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria, which can in turn render many of the antibiotics used for humans ineffective. In fact, antibiotic resistant infections are already killing 23,000 Americans each year.

A 2012 FDA policy change calls on livestock producers to refrain from using antibiotics to boost growth rates for pigs, cows, sheep and chickens, but it remains to be seen if the industry will toe the line or use loopholes to keep up the steady stream of antibiotics.

PANNA is one of many voices demanding an overhaul of how the FDA regulates our food supply.

“We all want to believe that government agencies are protecting us and our food supply from chemical contaminants -- but they are not,” reports the group. “They do not have the regulatory framework to do so.”

The group would like to see the US trade-in its policy that treats chemicals as “innocent until proven guilty” for something akin to Europe’s regulatory system, where a “health-protective precautionary approach” dictates which chemicals are approved for widespread use.

CONTACTS: PANNA; NRDC; FDA

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com).
Send questions to:
earthtalk@emagazine.com.
Subscribe:
www.emagazine.com/subscribe.
Free Trial Issue:
www.emagazine.com/trial
 
Reads: 1115





Click here to receive daily news headlines from Caribbean News Now!



Back...

Comments:

No comments on this topic yet. Be the first one to submit a comment.

Back...

Send us your comments!  

Send us your comments on this article. All fields are required.

For your contribution to reach us, you must (a) provide a valid e-mail address and (b) click on the validation link that will be sent to the e-mail address you provide.  If the address is not valid or you don't click on the validation link, we will never see it!

Your Name:

Your Email:

(Validation required)

Comments:
Enter Code



Please note that, if you are using an AT&T domain email address, e.g. att.net, bellsouth.net, sbcglobal.net, the verification email will likely not be delivered. This is outside of our control and the only remedy seems to be for readers to complain to AT&T





Disclaimer
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment author and are not representative of Caribbean News Now or its staff. Caribbean News Now accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Caribbean News Now reserves the right to remove, edit or censor any comments. Any content that is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will not be approved.
Before posting, please refer to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

The Caribbean Writer 2014


Other Headlines:



Regional Sports: